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Hurricane Harvey and What It Means to US Ag Exports

Hurricane Harvey and What It Means to US Ag Exports
NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center

Hurricane Harvey approaches the Gulf Coast which is a major export for agriculture and other products. The Soy Transportation Coalition discusses what it could mean for grain exports.

For U.S. agricultural exports, Texas Gulf accounts for 24 percent of wheat exports, 3 percent of corn exports, and 2 percent of soybean exports (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture).  Last week, 66,000 metric tons (2.5 million bushels) of wheat were exported from the Texas Gulf.  No soybeans or corn were exported from the Texas Gulf last week.

From a soybean and corn logistics perspective, the larger concern occurs as the consequences of Harvey extend further east to the 230 mile stretch of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the Gulf of Mexico.  This area accounts for 60 percent of soybean exports, 59 percent of corn exports, and 14 percent of wheat exports (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture).  Last week, approximately 500,000 metric tons or 18.4 million bushels of soybeans were exported from the Mississippi Gulf.  This is the equivalent of 8-10 ocean vessels.

It is expected that the hurricane system will slow down once it reaches the Texas coast, increasing the risk of prolonged heavy rain in southern Louisiana.  Some estimates for rainfall include 10-15 inches in the Baton Rouge to New Orleans area.  Grain handlers who export from and service the Mississippi Gulf region are taking Hurricane Harvey very seriously.  Obviously, heavy rain will delay the ability to load ocean vessels and unload barges.  Heavy winds and storm surges, if they occur, could damage the export terminals.

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